Sunglass Protection Tips and Cataracts
June is National Cataract Awareness Month, and UV rays are a significant risk factor for the eye disorder. The proper sunglasses can help protect you. The choices you make today will result in how your quality of life will be in years to come. As we get older, our eyes undergo physiological changes that can cause vision problems.
Are sunglasses in your swim bag when you pack your towel, swimsuit, flip-flops, a cooler full of drinks, a bag of snacks, and sunscreen? Eye care is essential as you head out this summer to take that dip and cool off in the summer sun. The Ultraviolet rays of the sun, or UV rays, can harm more than cause a sunburn to your skin. UV rays can also harm your eyes. By wearing the proper eye protection, you can help reduce the short-term and long-term effects of UV exposure to your eyes.
Since UV light carries more energy than visible light, it can do greater damage to our eyes. As we age, the damage simply has more time to accumulate: a cataract, (cloudiness of the lens) for example, is believed to be caused by many years of exposure to bright sunlight. Choose sunglasses with 100% UV blockage. You can’t tell UV blockage by looking at the glasses. A darker tint is not an indication of UV blockage, you should always look at the label.
The short-term exposure to high amounts of UV rays can be similar to your skin becoming sunburned. This is referred to as photo keratitis and is considered a sunburn of the eye. Photo keratitis can be painful and is usually accompanied by symptoms such as red eyes, the feeling of foreign object in your eyes, gritty feeling in the eyes, excessive tearing, and sensitivity to light. These symptoms are usually temporary and rarely result in permanent damage.
Long-term effects of high exposure to UV rays can include a greater risk of developing cataracts or developing macular degeneration in the later years of life.
With sunglasses coming in all shapes and sizes it is important to ensure that your sunglasses have the following features to help block out the most UV rays possible:
- Screen out 75-90 percent of visible light.
- Block out 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation.
- Have gray lenses to aid in proper color recognition.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the best sunglasses offer:
- 100% UV protection
- High optical quality (lenses are free of manufacturing defects like bubbles or waves that could bother your eyes)
- Scratch-resistant lenses
- A larger frame offers more coverage of the eye area.
If you spend a large amount of time outdoors, consider the wrap around style of glasses. This style blocks out the most light possible granting the most protection. If you are involved in outdoor work or sports, be sure to have sunglasses that are impact-resistant to prevent eye injuries from broken glasses entering the eye.
Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision and your eye doctor will help you decide if surgery is right for you.
Protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun can occur by wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. These two things can significantly reduce eye exposure to UVB radiation. Although cataracts are not completely preventable, their occurrence can be delayed. Smoking, avoiding excess amounts of alcohol, and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may delay the formation of cataracts.
When to See a Doctor…
Make an appointment for an eye exam if you notice any changes in your vision such as double vision or blurriness, see your doctor right away. Talk with your eye doctor about whether surgery is right for you. Prevention is the easiest way to help ensure that your vision lasts well into the future, keeping your head up and you moving forward.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.